Friday, May 22, 2015

Stuff from 505: "Woman Reading" by Pieter Janssens Elinga

Now that we have successfully completed the clean-out and move-out of my mom's house in southeastern Pennsylvania (which had been in the family since the 1950s and was mostly filled with stuff put there by my grandmother and great-grandparents), I have a ridiculous amount of new "old stuff" to write about here.1 I think I'll come up with a new Label2 to delineate items that fall into this category. "Stuff from 505" — 505 being the house number — is one Label possibility, but maybe that's a bit to obscure. Then again, this whole blog is obscure.

I'll think of something this week.

There have already been a few 2015 posts which would fall into this new category — "Revolving Poker Rack," "Mystery tiny notepad" and "Luckyday buttons," for example.

Today's item is a small piece of wood, about the size of a baseball card, upon which has been placed an image of a woman sitting in a room and reading a book.

A little easy research has determined that this is a cropped version of Woman Reading, which was painted by Pieter Janssens Elinga sometime around 1668 to 1670.

This painting joins a nice collection of Papergreat-curated illustrations of girls and women reading books:

So, on that note, share what you're reading this weekend in the Comments section!

1. Of course, the Papergreat backlog was already borderline ridiculous, though I was chipping away at it. Now it's back to full-blown ridiculous.
2. Labels are those category links you see at the bottom of each post.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vintage Scholastic cover: Revolt on Alpha C

If this book, Revolt on Alpha C, had been on my shelves last autumn when I was putting together the epic Scholastic Fest countdown of my Top 25 favorite covers, I think it would have had a great shot of finishing in the top 10. But, since it only joined the shelves this year, the book will have to experience a lifetime of regret for what could have been. (Assuming books can experience regret, which is unlikely. So never mind.)

In lieu of official glory, however, let's chat about this mid-century volume a bit.

This is the August 1962 second printing of a TAB Books paperback published for Scholastic Book Services as TX137. Revolt on Alpha C was written by Robert Silverberg, who is coincidentally also the author of Scholastic Fest's #1 book — Lost Race of Mars.

Revolt on Alpha C was illustrated by William Meyerriecks. There's not much information out there on Meyerriecks, but this is certainly a great cover. Another Scholastic cover he is credited with is Spooky Magic.

This book was Silverberg's first published novel, originally coming out when he was 19 or 20. According to a description of the novel on ("The Quasi-Official Robert Silverberg Web Site")...
"Revolt on Alpha C is not a major work by any standard, but as Silverberg's first novel it does occupy a cherished place in the history of science fiction. It contains many of the hallmarks of his later work (distrust of authority, questioning of tradition), but in embryonic form, showing more promise than accomplishment. In spite of its shortcomings, it has been reprinted many times (including an unknown number of printings by SBS with different covers) and translated into foreign languages."
Amusingly, the novel features a character named Harl Ellison — a tribute to Silverberg's neighbor, Harlan Ellison. (Man, what was in the tap water in that neighborhood!?)

Here's an excerpt featuring the opening passage of Silverberg's rookie novel:
"The stopover at Pluto was brief, but for Larry Stark it seemed to be much too long. The Carden and its crew had spent a week on the cold, small planet at the outermost edge of the solar system, making the necessary change-over to overdrive. This was the second stop on a journey that would take him to the fourth planet of the star Alpha Centauri, four and a half light-years away."

33 years in perspective: It was really all about a monkey washing a cat

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Silver Floss sauerkraut and the Pennsylvania Casserole

Here's a staplebound recipe booklet, about 3½ inches wide, filled with recipes for Silver Floss sauerkraut.

Its 24 pages are filled with ideas for using "sour cabbage" in cocktails, appetizers, salads, sandwiches and meat dishes. (No dessert ideas, though.)

The booklet was published sometime in the early 1960s by the Empire State Pickling Company in Phelps, New York, which was then the producer of Silver Floss. The popular brand of sauerkraut has changed corporate hands a few times since 1965 and is now under the corporate umbrella of GLK Foods.

Before diving into the recipes, the booklet touts sauerkraut's "low-calorie nutrition," its Vitamin C, thiamine and riboflavin, and its flavor and versatility. It claims that Silver Floss replicates the old-fashioned flavor of sauerkraut:
"For generations sauerkraut has been a traditional addition to winter meals. Mother or Grandmother always 'put down' sauerkraut each Fall in an earthen crock."

(Sauerkraut is a cousin of kimchi, a Korean dish that was first described to me by one of my ESL students in South Carolina in the late 1990s.)

Moving past the sauerkraut balls, kraut tomato aspic and kraut stuffing, I thought the most appropriate recipe to share from the booklet would be the one called Pennsylvania Casserole. Here's the picture, followed by the recipe.

Pennsylvania Casserole
(Makes 4-6 servings)
  • 1 cup boiled or baked ham, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 cups Silver Floss
  • 1½ tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 medium apples, sliced

Mix ham, kraut, lemon juice and salt in lightly greased casserole. Place a layer of kraut mixture on the bottom, then a layer of sliced apples. Alternate layers until casserole is filled. Cover and bake in a 350° oven 30 minutes.

That sounds pretty good. I like sauerkraut, but I've been struggling to find things to eat it with since I transitioned to pescetarianism two years ago. Sauerkraut and pork are pretty much joined at the hip, taste-wise. I'm also still trying to find the perfect vegetarian Reuben.

I'll leave you with this final image from the Silver Floss booklet...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Unmailed vintage postcard to "soldier boy"

For our Saturday afternoon "Intermission," here's an old postcard that was written out, but never stamped or postmarked. Perhaps it was hand-delivered. Perhaps it went into a drawer and was utterly forgotten ... until now.

The front of the card features a photograph of a woman playing a piano while a man sits and listens. They are in a well-furnished and well-decorated room. An odd filter has been applied to the image. It's green at the top and red at the bottom, and neither color does much to enhance the photo. It reminds me of stories I've heard about three-color filters that people could apply to the front of their black-and-white televisions, to make the broadcast appear in "color."1

The postcard was addressed to Mr. R.R. Daire (or possibly R.R. Gaire) of 843 West 34th Street in Baltimore, Maryland. The cursive note on the split-back card states:
"Dear Friend - I rec'd your card was very glad to hear from my soldier boy Lovingly Yours Virgie"

1. Tiffanie, writing on her Truly Skrumptious blog in November 2012, discussed the "Instant Color TV Screen." An excerpt:
"It actually sort of worked for scenery, but obviously failed with people, especially close ups of their heads! It was a lot of fun trying though, and we were actually happy to have ours, over plain black and white. Many of you may not believe that, but it’s true, as kids we had a lot of fun with it. The same way kids these days love playing with cell phones to be like adults, we liked to pretend we had a real color TV."

Friday, May 8, 2015

Illustration: "Revolving Poker Rack" from Pacific Game Company

This is the groovy illustration, chock full of card players in period attire, that's pasted to the top of a box that once held a poker rack and 200 chips. "Revolving Poker Rack" was sold by Pacific Game Company of North Hollywood, California — sometime in the early 1970s, I'm guessing.

I don't think Pacific Game Company is still in business. The latest reference I can find to it is around 1980. Some interesting chapters of its history include an elaborate 1973 game called Columbus Was Wrong and an early 1960s chess set that featured pieces (designed by Peter Ganine) that were also used as props on Star Trek, for its famous Tri-Dimensional Chess.1

People selling this vintage poker rack these days try to woo potential buyers by labeling it as a "Mad Men Era Poker Rack." I guess this time period isn't simply the late 1960s or early 1970s any more. It's just The Mad Men Era.2 Redo the history books.

This box also came with a little slip of paper telling people to address any issues they had with the poker rack to A. Kray of Pacific Game Company.

I wonder how much weekly mail Kray received. And if it included the "complete facts," as requested. And if any of it still exists.

1. The Pacific Game Company chess set in question was called "Sculptured Chess" or "Gothic" and was issued in 1961. On the website, the author lambasts Peter Ganine's design not once, but twice.

On a page titled "Chess Sets From Hell," the writer states: "At the top of my list is an aberration I call the Gothic, after its most ubiquitous and egregious incarnation, Sculptured Chess by Ganine "Gothic" (# 1475, the Salon Edition), from Pacific Game Company of North Hollywood. ... Pacific Games must have sold buckets of these, as they're thick as cockroaches on eBay."

And on a page titled "'Gothic' and similar busts," the writer, while also giving a detailed history of these chess pieces, states: "These seem to have been popular, but they always gave me the nerdles. ... The basic design is still as ugly as the aft end of a baboon, no matter what they colored it (remember, fancy colors didn't help the baboon's image either)."

Meanwhile, for a great history of the use of these Pacific Game Company Gothic chess pieces on Star Trek, check out this page from Carolus Chess.

2. By the way, as we near the final episode of Mad Men (which I don't watch), the most far-out fan theory is that Don Draper will morph into D.B. Cooper in the finale. That would be something.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rocketing York's hopes, dreams and ephemera into outer space (sort of)

During one of my lunch-time breaks from jury duty this week in York1, I came across a curious storefront a few doors down from York's Continental Square.

The makeshift banner read "Spaceship York." Inside, the walls were covered with white sheets of paper filled with people's hopes, dreams and outer-space drawings.2 On a tabletop, there were articles about some of the crazier and more far-out episodes of humankind's history of reaching for the stars.3

Oh, and there were free postcards (pictured at the top of this post). So I thought that was super cool, of course.

In the back of the small room, surrounded by carpentry tools, was The Spaceship, which is nearing completion.

It's not a functional spaceship. At least, I don't think it is. The mostly-wooden craft — which looks inspired by the likes of Jules Verne and Georges Méliès — is the artistic creation of "Chief Astronaut, Engineer, Mechanic, and Director" William Chambers, who is in the midst of a 2½-month project to launch the spacecraft and his collected ephemera into orbit.

When I visited on Tuesday, Chambers was working on the hatch and windows. Because if you're getting shot into space, you kind of want to see where you're going4, lest you crash into Jupiter or something.

Actual space travel isn't the point, of course. Mostly, Chambers is interested in where people are hoping to go. Their dreams for themselves and their city.

"In our world today, people don't go to school to dream anymore," he told The York Dispatch last month. "And sometimes, as adults, we're out of practice."

These are some of the dreams that children and adults have written down on those big white sheets of paper while at Spaceship York:
  • I Dream of A world where Our Eyes Can Meet In Trust And Love, And The Warmth of our Greeting Matches The Depth of our Souls.
  • MY Dream is that one Day Man Kind will realize we are all we have and there is no Help coming from anyware Else any time soon.
  • My dream is that my son lives a happy full life. And follow all his dream's where ever they may take him.
  • My Dream is to met an alein
  • My dream is to write A Novel.
  • I want to see the world's priorities shift from a love of things to a love of people, thus ensuring safety, health, and abundance for everyone.
  • stuff would cost less for everybody
  • My Dream Is To Ride A Dragon
  • To find life in other worlds. To learn about other life systems. To use that knowledge here.
  • I want to know that the pursuit of space exploration isn't driven because we're running out of natural resources ... Instead, I'd love to know that we're going to show our mistakes & how we managed to 'Fix' Them so that others don't Fall in the same hole ... go vegan!!

All of the dreams are scanned and posted at the Spaceship York website — But, if you're a southcentral Pennsylvanian, you should really go see it in person if you have a chance this month. Spaceship York, supported by the Cultural Alliance of York County, is located at 9 West Market Street in York.

"Lift off" is scheduled for June 5.

According to an article in the York Daily Record/Sunday News:
"After the spaceship launches, Chambers hopes it lands somewhere where he can find it. He wants to take the crashed remnants with him on the road, and maybe start conversations with people about the project itself. He hopes, if nothing else, Spaceship York encourages people to reach for the stars."

Related: For students and dreamers

1. Days of jury duty: Four. Number of trials chosen for: Zero. So I didn't get to live out any 12 Angry Men moments. ... I was, however, able to finish reading both The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash during my many hours in the jury waiting room.
2. Many of which featured Cat Astronauts. Because why not?
3. Yes, we're talking about you, Wan Hu.
4. Even if you're a Cat Astronaut, you'd want a window.

Saturday, April 25, 2015